World at Sea

How multitudes of people
can gather to gawk daily
at these magnificent, miserable creatures
being forced through round after round
of revolting Skinnerian circus tricks,
having been brutally wrenched
from their devastated families
to be pitilessly imprisoned
for the rest of their wretched, reduced lives
in holding containers,
tormented day and night
by echoes from their own hopeless sonar cries
while food-deprived and “trained”
to do whatever it takes
to draw delighted cheers
from grinning crowds of humans of all ages…

Did it really require this revealing new movie, Blackfish, to open our eyes to the ugly, shameful fact that this, and all things like this, are wrong, horribly, unforgiveably wrong?

That we provide the mindless market for such heartless abuse, in order to make our children laugh, is as much a condemnation of the sociopathic spectatorship as of the merciless, mercenary management of sadistic sea circuses — and all their land counterparts.

Perhaps the most chilling anomaly is how the “trainers” — of whom some, clearly, “turned,” eventually, after years of having been willing accomplices to the abuse of these helpless animals — were themselves “trained” (by the management along with self-deception) to overlook the obvious in exchange for the fees and the celebrity (“just following orders”? “being professional”?). It seems to have been various blends of venality and sensation-seeking, though some got into it and then got attached to their prisoners and stayed so as to use what little leverage they had to make their fate less worse, rather than abandon them altogether. — Or maybe that was just what they said for the camera? (I hope not.)

But most macabre of all was that some professed to have become Seaworld trainers to fulfill a dream that Seaworld itself had instilled in them as a child.


Tilikum’s punishment for having been kidnapped and abused for decades:

Solitary confinement
to provide sperm
for breeding more orcas
to be wrenched from their mothers
and put into entertainment servitude
for the rest of their miserable lives
to inspire more children
about the wonders of the sea